Today we’d like to introduce you to Donato Ricci.
Donato, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born and raised in Sicily-Italy and my family…, and when I say family, I mean… FAMILY has been involved in something that has to do with the service industry, so I was always surrounded by. Growing up I found myself very frequently in kitchens and dining rooms. There I learn the way that people like one of my idols of my youth Anthony Bourdain, chefs were loud and sweaty and not to be seen in the dining room.
There was a lot of glamour around the front of the house. Well dressed, we use it as a tool of seduction, it was a game, you act the part. So naturally acting was part of me at an early age. I did some theater ventured in music and always try to keep my goals high so I could feel the pressure and excitement. In the midst of all, my dad would go from a woman to another while I was living with him.
My parents were divorced, so I had a fast grow track where figuring things out was on a daily. Therefore, when it came time to decide what to study for what will be your profession, in classic Italian style, I decided to pursue a very experimental version of hospitality school, a pioneer on the genre.
An opportunity came to come to California after many years of traveling around Europe, working in restaurants hotels, trattoria, bar, clubs, and resorts across the countries for short contracts and usually underpaid. I could refuse. So, I went through the standard procedure that was required as an immigrant in the US. It was bad then but now… IT’S INSANE!… with that experience, I decided to take my coat and hat off and stay a while.
Has it been a smooth road?
One of my primary struggles was the most obvious for immigrants, the language after many different challenges that I created for myself, like working for the fire department and in merchandising. I found myself going back to what I was truly intended for. Hospitality.
Obviously, nothing to be compared to the distance from family but worth the price, or at least that’s what I tell myself daily to remain motivated and inspired to fulfill my destiny. I ended up falling in love with this beautiful state of California. As north to Sacramento and as south as San Diego and back again, finally to settle in Los Angeles.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Ricci Hospitality was born from my desire to provide a style of service that was embedded in me at a young age. My dad was very influential in my mental and physical demands of a specific style of service. That type of pressure creates a performance — an experience. That is what is necessary to create, reside and relive that experience repetitively.
I ended up placing myself in a very rare position in a career that placed me back into management — bouncing from a small coffee shop to a multi-unit consultation project. I captured and caught up to the trends America was commercializing, and I was able to get into it quickly based on the passion I have for the business. I ended up having several openings, some more successful than the others…
Now, I’m currently working on a new project on the very popular, Melrose Ave. LN2 Pizza Shoppe. But don’t let the name fool you. LN2 is a sensory masterpiece that goes well beyond just pizza. I feel like in my family, on my mother and father sides were both very comfortable with being welcoming to people and creating inviting environments. The glamorous part of it captivated me also.
Therefore, my main goal for when entertaining someone in my space is to make sure they are comfortable, enjoying the vibe, the food, and the service of what I offer. That’s what we Sicilians call “ home.” I just finished shooting my pilot as executive producer/host of ‘ The Gourmet High’ a cutting edge cannabis cooking show. I’m super excited for this new feat to my career arsenal, coming 2019!
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
This city is definitely a great place for this business. Every great Angeleno knows about the quality of a good party. It could come from a great dining experience to a sports bar. We have a quality of people that understand what it takes to get to that level in hospitality.
When you start into this business, you must take some abroad training in order to gain the aspect that you would never be able to gain in America. In terms of turning a restaurant into a family.
I believe that the city is doing a good job on highlighting the different neighborhoods where you are able to find quality foods and different experiences. And I’m happy to be apart of a city where some of the best Italian cuisines have been prepared and shared.
- Email: TheRicciHospitality@gmail.com
- Instagram: riccihospitality